tv Senator Cardin Speaks at Council on Foreign Relations CSPAN April 9, 2017 4:57pm-6:02pm EDT
c-span's washington journal. live every day with the news and policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, we discussed a federal ruling on of ebt workplace discrimination and an author will talk about his book "the unholy trinity blocking the left assault on life, marriage and gender." and we will talk about the complexity of the tax code. join the discussion. next marilyn senator ben cardin talks about his work on targeting global anticorruption efforts. he also talks about president trump's business holdings and whether they present conflict of interest for the u.s. foreign-policy agenda. senator cardin is the top democrat on the foreign relations to many. this is an hour. [applause]
shannon: good morning, everyone. welcome to our symposium on the future of anticorruption in u.s. foreign-policy. everyone knows that the senator, we know he has been thinking about these issues for many, many years. let me start off by asking you in your time here, 30 years are close to 30 years here in washington, you have dealt with a lot of foreign-policy challenges. you've dealt with wars, economic classes and refugee crisis. all sorts of threats and amid all of these, where did corruption link? >> thank you very much.
take you to the council on foreign affairs for holding this series of discussions of dealing with corruption. you have to realize there are forces working against us. we scheduled this over a month ago and we had snow. here i am trying to get away from the nuclear fallout happening in the united states senate. there are outside forces at work here. corruption is -- you talk about my experiences -- when i first came to congress, i got involved in the helsinki commission basically because i realized the importance of human rights and anticorruption in regards to the values of america. america's strength is in its values. eriod of history is recorded, i'm certain that the success in america bringing down the soviet union and
helping democracies around the world is going to be the values we are remembered for. our values are good governance, human rights, anticorruption. that is what we stand for as a nation. about eight months ago i was called to the white house at the national security council meeting called on corruption. for the reasons he just said. corruption is the cancer that is spreading and affecting the welfare of the global community. syndicates, itme is a void where terrorists can thrive. which --ircumstance in if we don't fight corruption we have governments that are not stable. -- theyant an honest want an honest government.
it is robbing people of the wealth of their countries. we can give you many, many examples. let me cite the most recent. we are confronting a problem in northern africa of famine. millions of people are at risk. when you look at transparency, a 2016 index on corruption, they ranked 177 countries. the last two were somalia and south sudan. this is a famine that has caused by conflict and lack of governments. it's not nature. that is not why people in sudan and south somalia are starving. corruption is an issue we need to deal with. if we do not, there will be more wars, less prosperity, and it will not only affect america's prosperity but across the globe. shannon: let me turn to legislation on this. this is the anniversary of the act passed in 1977, the first
foray of the united states into facing corruption abroad. i would love to ask you to reflect of the last few decades since that passage as we look at u.s. participation. what achievements have been made? where are we lacking? where is the record? what we happen have not done on this issue. senator cardin: i smile little bit because i have been in other countries, companies where they tell me that there is a quota for u.s. government because they cannot be involved in corruption. we have made progress. there is no question we've made progress in fighting corruption. but he challenges are incredible. today, we are facing a global community where there is a question as how important corruption really is.
the number one example is russia. corruption is the lubricant that allows mr. putin to do what he is doing. he is a master at deception. so, he creates problems around the world so his population has this nationalist view about putin's leadership that allows him to stay in power. if that becomes legitimate, the progress we are making in getting support the fight corruption is compromised. so, yes, u.s. leadership has made a difference. but we still have a long way to go. in recent years, i think we have lost a little bit of the momentum. certainly with russia's dominance in world affairs. they are moving their footprint well beyond europe. you saw their attack here in the united states and vc what they are doing in the middle east. we have a challenge ahead of us.
shannon: let me turn to what is ahead of us. we have had some achievements, some progress, perhaps some backslipping. what should the united states could or should do to address that. i know you just introduced a bill. talk about that. sen. cardin: it was passed globally, and my colleague, senator mccain, the two of us have championed legislation on capitol hill. it was not easy. our friends in the state department do not like congress getting involved. there is an almost universal view, whether it is a democratic or republican administration, they would prefer congress go away and not deal with us. this law was congress saying look we're going to put a spotlight on corruption first in russia because of the tragedy
--olving surveyed and 50 -- we said basically if you are involved in gross violations of human rights, corruption, etc., and your country does not take action against you, and that is what happened with that tragedy, we will not give you the benefit of america. we will not allow you to visit our country or hide your assets in our economy. that was passed. it was passed not just in the united states. it has been passed in european countries. it is gotten a good deal of international attention and now we have moved to the global law where we can use these tools anywhere in the world. it is working. believe me people who are involved in corruption want to visit their wealth and they don't their wealth in their own country.
yesterday i followed along with senator purdue, a corruption index bill that will allow us to do what we have done in trafficking and persons that would document how every country is doing in their campaign against corruption by giving tiered ratings, so you can see how well you are doing relative to the rest of the world, developing standards to fight corruption, including antibribery laws, transparency, those types of issues that are important to fight corruption, and then using that information in our different agencies of government, particularly our foreign assistance budgets to make sure we focus on anticorruption activities. we can do more. lastly, the single development goals. -- the sustainable development
goals. we were talking about that before how we can expand on some of the gender issues. the united states, through our leadership, we are able to get the international community working together with the united nations to put good governance as one of our sustainable development goals through the united nations. we have made some progress and there is more we can do. shannon: if your bill, and the -- as it goes forward if it gets , passed, it seems like a lot will depend on the agencies. there are those who worry that the trump administration, this is not a priority for them. and some of the leadership in the united states on anticorruption may not be there. what is your take? sen. cardin: that was a pretty diplomatic way of putting it. [laughter] sen. cardin: the trump administration has made this much more difficult. for many, many reasons. i will try to be concise. i could really talk a long time about it. there was a highlight this week when president trump met with president sisi of egypt.
there's a lot you can say about the u.s.-egyptian relationship and there are a lot of issues to talk about but clearly reforms in egypt need to be in the forefront of that discussion. otherwise, you are again going to run into the problems of whether this government can maintain stability in a very important country in the middle east. and president trump never mentioned that. when you are talking about u.s. visible leadership and bilateral relations, our values have to be front and center. it was not. earlier this week, we saw secretary tillerson talking about president assad, saying it is perfectly ok for him to stay if the people of syria want him. and of course we then saw the horrific use of chemical weapons again by president assad against innocent civilian populations.
of course, you should not be using chemicals at all. that lack of moral clarity is very damaging to our ability to advance these issues. let me compare that to ambassador haley, who has been pretty clear about moral clarity issues. i would urge president trump and secretary tillerson to take a lesson from ambassador haley about how to be clear. her comments about russia very refreshing. it was not diplomatic, but sometimes we have to say those things. it is deeper than just not showing the priorities in the public statements on
anticorruption and good governance. we have the problems of credibility of the trump administration. when you endorse fake news as a strategy for foreign policy or domestic policy and you meet with foreign leaders in an effort to advance governance, your credibility is much weakened. that is very true of the trump administration. when you make a decision you are not going to divest yourself of your personal wealth as president of the united states, you can determine what is in conflict and what is not, let alone the violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution. the president of the united states can profit off of being the president of the united states. that's the perception globally. we saw the approvals by the chinese authorities after years of fighting.
now the president of china is meeting with president trump whose interests are being , advanced? the united states' or personal business interests? that makes it very difficult to be able to stand up for good governance and anticorruption. or on transparency. the president not releasing his tax returns. transparency is one of the key elements of anti-corruption strategies. or advancing as one of the first bills in this congress, sidetracking the provisions that senator lugar and i worked on on transparencies from the extractive industries so poor countries to get the values of their minerals. -- putting that on hold. all that compromises -- and lastly, when you present your priorities for the budget, the priorities you see for our country and you say we could reduce our international
development programs by 36%, and america needs to be there to help countries develop democratic institutions that can protect against corruption. all of that combined weakens the united states leadership. there's only one united states of america. there is only one country that can do what we can do and that has been severely damaged. shannon: let me follow up on that. if our executive is not going to lead on this, is there anyone else who can pick up the mantle? is it that grim? sen. cardin: it is very grim, but it's not that grim. [laughter] sen. cardin: i'm not supposed to share what happens in the private meetings of the senate foreign relations committee, so i'm going to violate that a little bit in that we have meetings with world leaders and they meet with our committee. we had that with president sisi, the day after he met with president trump.
just about every member of the senate foreign relations committee used their time in questioning president sisi on human rights. just about every single member. and i think that was to counter what was apparent by the lack of that discussion or reporting of that discussion with president trump. so, there is great interest. in the congress, we have champions on both sides of the aisle on good governance and anticorruption and human right. we had bipartisan support for the introduction of the bill that we did. it was john mccain who insisted that anticorruption be part of this. there is a strong bipartisan interest in congress to advance these issues and we recognize both democrats and republicans, that we have a challenge of his administration. -- a challenge with this administration. we are working together to counter that. shannon: great. i am going to open this up to questions from our members in a few minutes. for me ask you one other question.
because the president is today meeting with president xi from china. china is a place where we think about it as a place of a lot of deep-seated corruption. but also a president who has been championing anticorruption measures. you can argue about their anticorruption measures. but when you think about our relationship with china -- sometimes a partner, often a competitor, and how you prioritize corruption and what would you have happened today in terms of this issue? do you think it would be on the agenda and what would be useful in the u.s.-china relationship? sen. cardin: it was encouraged -- there has been a bipartisan group that encouraged that the president bring these issues up in his meeting. we had a bipartisan effort to encourage this to be on the agenda. i don't want to disappoint you, but the president did not share his agenda with me. [laughter] senator cardin: i don't know how transparent it will be, their conversations. one of the really disappointing things about secretary tillerson is that he is not sharing a lot
of what he is doing with the american people and the global community, so we don't know what is happening. the megaphone is important here. so, it would be very helpful if the president did something visibly to show that human rights is on the agenda. we know that mr. tillerson is going to be in russia. will he have meetings with the opposition? that is a very visible signs that he is open to the human rights agenda issue. will you make public statements about that? we will be watching to see what transpires in the privacy of the meeting, but also what is broadcast. that is a very important signal. this cannot be kept private. there are too many people fighting and struggling around the world that need to hear that hope. we have met with courageous leaders. just this week, a man from russia.
-- what he is gone through in russia he is entitled to know , that we are fighting on his behalf. i think there was reform in china. we saw some positive signs that under president xi, we have not seen a continuation of that. if anything, we have seen a retreat. it is more challenging today for people to express themselves with religious freedom and certainly corruption, particularly at the local level is widely order. it is a country that desperately needs to get back on track on reform, and they are going in the wrong direction right now. shannon: let me open it up to your questions. remember, this is a meeting on the record. please raise her hand. i will call on you.
there will be microphones that will come around. state your name and your question please. >> george washington university law school, thank you for your leadership. you talked about leadership and gave some examples of how there are some problems with the current administration. you did not say anything about the federal conflict interest statute, which we have been told does not apply to the president. if that is true, doesn't that set a bad example for the united states to have a conflict of interest standard that omits the chief executive? and if that is a problem, what is the solution to that? sen. cardin: i think the federal conflict of interest does apply to the present, but let me explain that. i was part of the congress that passed these laws in response to some immediate concerns we had with the members of congress, etc.
what we didn't want to be challenged was the president's authority to act, and therefore we did not want the ability to challenge the effectiveness of the president of the united states to speak definitively with the authority that he has. that is the reason he was given this leeway on being able to challenge his actions. but conflicts do apply. corruption statutes apply to the president of the united states. the emoluments clause is pretty clear on foreign transactions. it applies to the president of the united states, there is no question about that. i am concerned about his domestic conflicts. i am. there will be questions as to whether his office is being used for personal gain. when his children traveled with all of the protection that is appropriate because of their family connection to the president of the united states and their vulnerabilities, that
is intimidating to people that they are negotiating with on business deals. that to me is not appropriate. that is why we have the tradition in this country that every president has divested or set up blind trusts in order to avoid the appearance of conflict or conflict situations. president trump has made the office of the president vulnerable because of his refusal to do that. if you wanted to be secretary of state, you had to divest. as he did. as secretary tillerson did. the president did not. that is just wrong. i understand the technical aspects of the conflict statutes as to how you can challenge the president's actions, but conflicts apply to every person in public life and the emoluments clause clearly applies to be president. >> sarah chase from the carnegie endowment.
to follow up on that question, because of the credibility gap is so important to the united states' ability to lead in this domain, understand where you are on the substance, emoluments, conflict of interest, divestiture, tax -- sen. cardin: tax returns. >> thank you. releasing tax returns. my question is, you have been able to achieve remarkable bipartisan consensus on moving some of these issues forward with respect to the international sphere. have you begun engaging in conversations with your friends from the other side of the aisle on the application of them to the united states so some of these things which may have been
traditions in the past become law and the law is challengable. there are some emolument cases at the moment. but standing is a question. sen. cardin: we have never been down this path before. we do not know about enforcement. it is very challenging. senator blumenthal is looking at different ways in which we may be able to develop standing, and he has been working on that. so, we are all working with him to see whether there is a way we can avoid this. i followed the resolution in congress to avoid this problem, that we told the president before and after he took the oath of office it is the sense of congress he has created a problem. you have to correct it in order to avoid a constitutional crisis. we are trying to weigh in to avoid a constitutional crisis. we know enforcement can happen in the house of representatives. we do not want to go down that route. that is the ultimate enforcement. we understand that would cause a
crisis in america. we are trying to avoid that if we possibly can, to find ways we can enforce these issues. in the meantime, i have put on notice our representatives globally about the emoulment concerns. as business deals are being done, i want to make sure that there are no violations of the emolument clause being facilitated by other countries. have i seen a lot of bipartisan cooperation on this? no, i have not. i think it has to do that we are too close from the elections, and it was such an unorthodox way that president trump was elected and republicans do not want to feed into the scenario of the latest me -- of the legitimacy of his election. we know want to do that on the democratic side, either, but i think it has prevented us from a bipartisan way of dealing with the emoluments issue. i can tell you, privately republicans say he should have
released his tax returns. he should have set up a blind trust. but we have not gotten to where we can work together to solve the problems. >> my name is anatoly. senator, thank you for being here today and your work on behalf of people around the world fighting corruption. i am originally from ukraine, so corruption is a sore topic for me and my fellow citizens. i now live in lancaster, pennsylvania. corruption in ukraine or anywhere else outside of the u.s. is not at the top of the agenda of the people who live around me. do you think corruption overseas gets enough attention among the general public in the u.s.? if not, what should we do, or should we do anything to raise the awareness of people in this country about corruption overseas? sen. cardin: great question.
unless corruption hits you personally, you don't really feel it. in the united states, most americans do not believe that their lives have been adversely impacted by corruption. they do not recognize the impact internationally on the security of america or the global economics for the use of military, those types of issues do not hit them directly. you are absolutely correct. you are from ukraine. you understand this. not during the immediate time but certainly thereafter, i was with the people and so what was -- and saul was happening in kiev. what happened in ukraine was not a fight between russia and europe for the loyalty or the desires of ukraine. it was the ukrainians wanting to get rid of a corrupt system. it was a popular uprising against corruption. what happened in romania. 500,000 turned out to fight february, corruption. what is happening in russia. people are protesting against
their corrupt government. it does hit home when it hits you. and americans have not been able to identify with the urgency of fighting corruption. we talk about this a lot. do you have any suggestions on how we can get this done? it's very frustrating. there's a lot of energy out there. you may have noticed since the november election there a lot more people engaged in the political system and talk about it. they want to weigh in. we're trying to figure how to do that. if you have suggestions, i mean it, let us know. we had a group that we talked with three hours, and at the end of the discussion we are still asking, how can we make a difference? i think when you look at corruption in russia, there is a question whether we have a system on capitol hill to investigate that honestly. that is why the american people want an independent commission to investigate what russia was doing in the united states.
they do not believe that there is an honest system. i am not trying to discredit what is being done by the senate intelligence committee. i have a great deal of confidence in them. but it would be a lot better if we had an independent commission. if we did, i think we could connect more with the american people about how we are fighting corruption. >> good morning. christie kyle. global financial integrity. thank you to cfr for hosting this today. thank you, senator. one of the things that we have been debating as a civil society since the election is what kind of strategy we pursue for anticorruption. do we continue to try to fight aggressively, or is that a riskier strategy and things can be rolled back. do we hunker down and hope and
hope that things can hold on until the status quo is more favorable. -- hold on to the status quo until there is a more favorable attitude in washington and capitol hill. and the second question is, within congress, one of the things we talked about is trying to go at the republican side from a security perspective, since that tends to play better than just a pure moral or development argument. i'm not sure what your thoughts are on that. thank you. sen. cardin: i have a very easy answer for you. get behind the bill i thought yesterday with senator purdue. and i mean that. would evaluaten how every nation in the world is doing in fighting corruption. i passed over pretty quickly the analogy of trafficking in persons.
it was not too long ago that americans did not think trafficking of persons was an important issue. they didn't. they did not think prostitution with trafficking was all that important to their everyday life. and then the congress of the united states got involved, and all due respect, it was congress saying this is modern day slavery and it has got to end, and the united states' leadership is desperately needed. we tried to put some faces on it. law enforcement has always looked at the victims as criminals rather than than victims. we change that attitude. we develop victim centers. here in the united states, because everyone thought trafficking was a problem in third world nations. where do they want to go to? where is the profit motive? we recognized we were a destination country. we recognized we have trafficking within the united states. we had problems ourselves.
the trafficking in persons report not only evaluates every other country in the world, it evaluates the united states. and the corruption report will evaluate how we are doing here in america. i mentioned transparency and the international report. america was not number one. we were number 18. there are things that we can do better than we are doing today. get behind what we are trying to do. yes, in trafficking, there are a lot of outside groups that were doing rating before we put the tip report together. but it is the u.s. tip report that is known globally today and it was the gold standard until it was somewhat tarnished in evaluations under the obama administration. it is still the gold standard. and we want to make this effort a bipartisan effort and we are going to get resistance from the state department. make no mistake about it.
i admire greatly our dedicated foreign service officers and what they do for america. they do not like to have another burden put on them. they do not like to have another burden put on them. they don't like to have to raise issues that makes their life more complicated, and what they're trying to get done in other countries. but fighting corruption is so important, as is fighting traffic. we can elevate that. we could use your help in getting this legislation done. it is not a slam dunk at all. it is going to be an uphill battle and we need your help. >> thank you, shannon, for organizing this, and senator cardin, i greatly appreciate you. i have been thinking about these issues for a long time. shannon: do you mind introducing yourself? >> oh, sorry. eric olson, from the woodrow wilson center. thinking about it or in this hemisphere than anything.
one of the things i think you are doing is elevating this as an important issue, which it does not get discussed that much in our foreign aid. and i think the approach that you're taking is really about shining a light on problems and naming and shaming and bringing to the public the problems of corruption around the world. i think that that is terrific. another approach the u.s. government has tried is to strengthen the institutions of government so they can do that more effectively. if you look at brazil, it is pretty remarkable what they have been able to do to battle corruption. but that is really the exception to the rule. and u.s. foreign assistance, although it has had institution strengthening on the agenda for a long time even the reagan , administration funded administration of justice programs in central america in the 1980's, we still have no rule of law in central america by and large.
i am wondering, in addition to what you are doing, we should not take another hard look at what we are trying to do vis-a-vis strengthening institutions in central america, in this hemisphere and around the world. because at the end of the day they are the ones that have to do the hard work of holding their own officials accountable. how you do that is a real challenge. i do think it is important that foreign aid look at that issue more directly. sen. cardin: i agree with you. it is impossible to see how that could advance if the president's skinny budget became law. a 36% cut. 36% cut in the state department budget. let alone remember we have major commitments that i support and help in food that i support and then we have a small amount of money that goes to the programs you are talking about, democracy
and protecting institutions. and in many parts of the world, we have virtually no resources being spent where they need it the most. not in our hemisphere, but in africa we have very little dollars spent on democracy. every time i visited an african country, the mission asks can we get more democracy money? we can use it. to underscore the i agree with point you completely that you are going to have to reverse what the president has come in with. my concern is congress will not pass a 36% cut. they will not. i'm convinced of that. but if they use that as the yardstick, all of a sudden a 5% cut does not look bad. a 5% cut is terrible. we have work to do. in our hemisphere you are right. we have some ideas on how we can make that institution more relevant to the current needs. the interesting point about our hemisphere is we have almost every country in our hemisphere
are democrat countries. we have a couple of exceptions, make no mistake about it, and in those exceptions, corruption is widespread. venezuela is closed to a failed state. i am meeting with the opposition today from venezuela to see what we can do. apart.nomy is falling they are extremely corrupt. we have to deal with that in relation to a failed democracy. invoking the charter is appropriate. and of course, cuba is not a democratic country. i would never suggest that it is. they have widespread corruption in cuba. we have to deal with that. but i was with the foreign minister from mexico yesterday. that is a democratic country and they are fighting corruption. in some cases they are winning and in some they are not. the northern cartels are notorious for how they are able to infiltrate societies, police officers and judges and how the
drug trade is facilitated by these criminal elements. we have got to be able to find that. i was in the northern triangle. the leaders are really trying to fight corruption. they are trying to do the right thing. they are bringing in outside help. but the drug cartels, the gang activities are so integrated into their way of life there we have real, real challenges in order to root this out. it is causing extreme violence and migration, which is affecting our entire hemisphere. certainly affecting the united states. your point is well taken. vice president biden initiated a program for the northern triangle. i strongly supported it. it was not as transformational as we needed. we need, i think, to invest even more to try to transform these countries in fighting corruption.
shannon: vanessa. >> thank you. vanessa norman. i am american but i was born in venezuela. i work a lot on western hemisphere issues . i wanted to take rather more specifically, there is an interest in the application of the minsky act and what happens, , i know for venezuelans, they start with the corruption, highlighting the corruption of the regime is more and more potent in tipping that perhaps. it resonates more. you can see it on social media. so, how exactly would the u.s.'s foreign aid, for instance, help implement rule of law, which arguably is a cultural problem, not just the regime? sen. cardin: you're absolutely right about that. venezuela is extremely frustrating because the will of
the people is not being adhered to. the elections were not implemented. there is now even an effort to block the parliament from doing anything. it is a very dangerous situation, what is happening. the country is on the brink of failure. the humanitarian crisis is getting worse and worse. it is an urgent issue. fortunately, almost two thirds of the countries of our hemisphere are prepared to take action. we just have to get a few more countries to act and i think we can take rather dramatic action as it relates to venezuela. how do you implement reform? it is not easy. i agree with you. you have a history of people getting services by paying bribes. how do you change that? people have safety by paying bribes. the hotel i was staying at, a really nice area.
i hope it was nice, i was staying there. they pay bribes. they called it rent but they were bribes. how do you bring that to an end? it's not easy to figure out how you do that. yes, what we are suggesting is using the circumstances of the country that are not meeting norms, not our norms, but recognized norms for anticorruption, and how do we focus our other agencies, including development and assistance, to bring about those changes? that is the purpose of the legislation we filed. we get the information. we require the agencies to use that information. if you are not at an acceptable level, how do we target our the use of our relationship with that country to bring about reforms that will elevate their standards in fighting corruption? we have done conditionality of foreign aid in the past, but it has been haphazard. it has not been -- it's been more in the interest of one member than the documented need of a country. that's what we are trying to do.
we are trying to have an organized way to have a game plan in the country to get them to a better level in fighting corruption, recognizing this is not going to be quick. it's going to take time. >> thank you, senator. i wanted to ask about a topic you have mention about bipartisanship a challenge in , the senate and congress today. what do you see as the way forward for the senate? what role it should play in the current administration? thank you. sen. cardin: that is about as difficult a question as how to channel energy to bring about change. the house can operate in a very partisan manner because they have a tradition where the rules committee can determine what is done as long as they have a majority vote they can move , forward. the challenge in the house of representatives is twofold. they have a challenge of
partisanship, and they now have a challenge that the majority party cannot have unity in their own party, causing the division. that could lead to more bipartisanship in the house, because i would hope it would be better for speaker ryan to work with democrats rather than the far right of his party. the challenge to that is, he could lose the speakership by doing that. it is not as simple as it sounds. the senate is nowhere near as partisan. i worked with republicans on just about every issue. most of our committees not all, , work with comedy between the majority and minority. senator corker and i go over everything before anything is done. we almost always reach consensus. not always. almost always reach consensus. our members work together. it is not anywhere near as partisan in the operation of the senate as it appears that articles being written. this is not a good day to talk about it. [laughter]
senator cardin: this is a very sad day. and it's not sad because the majority vote for the supreme court nominee. the sad part is the rules were changed without democrats and republicans agreeing to the rules changing. because we need to change our rules. if an individual senator can block legislation, that's wrong. to delay legislation, i get that. we are a slower body. it takes us longer to learn things. for senator to block, that is wrong. we've not talked about that. we recognize there will be days that democrats are the minority. there will be days republicans are the minority. let's get these rules to make some sense. that's what missing today. it's unilateral action. it's not like it just happened today. this is been going on for at least, pretty dramatically at least the last eight years. and it's time for grownups to
get together and leaders to lead and for us to figure out ways we can make the senate work the way it should work. >> good morning, senator. as you know, the fcpa has led to a series of international conventions. and now similar laws in 150-some countries. since 1977, we have developed, as you indicated, a greater appreciation of the economic costs, how it contributes to international crimes and how it undercuts the rule of law. my question is, arguably one of the most negative things we could do would be to repeal or substantially dilute the fcpa, and there are occasional suggestions to that effect.
my question is, do you see a sense of that, a likelihood of that in the congress and how would you react to that? sen. cardin: i would think there would be strong resistance to repealing -- just the name of it. you are going to repeal foreign corrupt practices? [laughter] sen. cardin: i just don't think we would do that. there's a greater danger we may try to weaken it or not enforce it, and that would be an area we would have to watch very closely. as president trump talks about new trade arrangements with other countries, what we would like to see and do is just the opposite. we know that there is a need for -- in government procurement there is a need for the united states to have a stronger position with our trading partners because we do not participate in corruption. so therefore, let's have a better way to deal with government supported enterprises
and how to deal with government procurement. and that should be part of the trade agenda. but to go backwards and say we will accept corrupt practices, that it is an acceptable standard to contracts, no, i don't believe congress -- congress would not move in that direction. >> thank you so much. thank you, senator cardin, for your leadership and for your eloquence in your clarity in discussing these issues, and thanks so much, shannon. i work for the coalition of integrity, formerly known as transparency usa. the biggest obstacle to fighting corruption that i see is impunity. i say this not only because i worked with transparency international for many years but , i grew up in india. i went through a corrupt education system and saw the opportunities available to me were so limited. one way to fight that impunity
is to reduce the ability of corrupt officials around the world to enjoy that. in the u.s., we are a major enabler of that. we have the ability to set up a company in the u.s., a legal entity without really knowing who derives economic benefit from the entity or who owns it. so, what leadership can we expect from this congress on the issue of transparency? sen. cardin: thank you for that. this is an area under the jurisdiction of the banking committee, not senate formulations committee. i have been working very closely with our counterparts on banking as to how we can coordinate what we do on foreign policy and they do on banking. i mentioned i was at the national security council fighting corruption, and this is one of the major areas they felt we needed to reform our laws in order to have a more effective way of preventing hiding of assets in the united states. there is need for reform.
some of the technical aspects were explained to me. i am fully on board trying to make the law more effective, rooting out those that are using these companies to hide illegal assets. you are right. it needs to be done, and we will work closely with the banking committee to see if we can get that done. >> good morning and thank you, shannon. following up on your comments, is there included in your legislation or somewhere a way to use more robustly the tools we have and the treasury department and the justice department and other indictments to go after some of these national leaders that have become so powerful and use that to their benefit? sen. cardin: the answer is, yes, we have that in our legislation.
it is somewhat vague in our legislation because of the jurisdiction of committees. but we do require interagency reporting and working together for a common agenda to deal of progress in a country. everything identified is very much in the agency coordination issue that we anticipate will be part of what we do. then there needs to be oversight by congress. one of the matters that i am pushing hard for on our committee is to have oversight hearings. without some pretty effective oversight hearings because the administration of the last congress did things that they should not have done on trafficking. we called it out, and as a result, i think we made the corrections. this year's report was much more objective, as it should have been. the same thing needs to be done on corruption. if this becomes law, we need to bring in these agencies to make sure they are doing things that are consistent with what the
report shows needs to be done. and identifying the root causes the death of the cut with an fighting corruption. shannon: here. >> hi, senator cardin. i am a lifelong resident of maryland. i thank you for your leadership in maryland. my name is steve zimmerman. i work for the world bank. i wonder if you think there is an opportunity for the united states to use its leadership in other organizations to perhaps lead from behind as the u.s. loses a bit of the moral high ground on this issue, but help the rest of the world pay attention to the issue of corruption? senator cardin: that is a point. not just because you are a marylander. but it's a good point. [laughter] senator cardin: it is really important for us to sensitize the international corporations on this issue. as i mentioned earlier, i have
spent a lot of time with the organization for the security cooperation and we really focused on anticorruption in that organization. that was one of our missions, human rights and good governance. we find at times, pragmatic decisions are made and corruption is not as high as it should be. international banking, we have had conversations about corruption. we recently had a pretty good conversation on these issues. the u.s., we had a major player in just about every international organization. we dominate. if we don't raise it, it is unlikely it is going to get the attention that it needs. it is u.s. leadership. i don't think that mr. trump will be directing participants on priorities within these organizations. i don't think that necessarily is the case. we have to make sure that those that are, that corruption is raised. that is why hope that what happened under president obama
on fighting corruption as national security priority, we need to get that in the trump administration, that it is a national security priority, fighting corruption. instructing every agency to elevate the ways of dealing with this. when you have that leverage, you can demand certain types of performance. that performance, you can accomplish what the country needs to do. it's an excellent point. >> joe oliver. i lived in kiev the year before the revolution. working for the global fund to fight aids, tb and malaria. one of my jobs was to organize a press conference to suspend a $100 million grant the ukrainian government was getting. there was corruption in the distribution. president putin's daughter was running in a foundation that got
it. we give it to an international ngo. in the month before the revolution i would like to think that it played some small role. i heard ambassador hayley talking potentially about u.n. reform. is congress going to they were funding looking at the u.n. reform agenda, are you going to look at successful examples like the global fund, where i think you have seen a lot of suspensions of grants, ministers of health run in jail. is that something you look at? sen. cardin: thank you. i will bring that to ambassador haley's attention. i think she is under extreme pressure to reduce budgets. that's unfortunate. i am all for more efficient budgets. i really am. i think we can do things for less cost than we do today. i agree with that. but to have as a goal a certain
number without any rationale behind it is wrong. the pressure on our participation in international organizations, the budget numbers they will get from omb are going to be unrealistic. it is going to be forcing them to do things in the name of reform that will really be counterproductive. but, yes, we will do that. we will try to do that. what i was impressed by ambassador haley in her conversations that we had, she was before our committee and we had the conversation recently, she said she was not trying to put the united states out of compliance with our responsibilities in the united nations. that would prevent us from participating. and she is not attempting to withdraw from any organizations. she will make independent evaluations. she's not there yet. she really wants to understand how these organizations work first. what she is looking at is inefficient missions, either correct them or stop them. that's not an unrealistic
position to take. obviously, most of the missions done by the united nations are critically important. peacekeeping. humanitarian. we don't want to end of that. but always remember when we had bill gates and bill clinton testified before the foreign relations committee where they said that it your money is going to corruption, pull out of the country. you got to do that. as much as we want to help, you are not helping the country by funding corruption. you have to be prepared to leave. if you find an alternative, that is always the best way. if you can't, you have to make hard decisions. shannon: we have time for one more question. >> i work for a hedge fund. shannon, thank you for
organizing today, and senator cardin, thank you for your leadership. the definition for corruption has gotten narrower over time. with cases like citizens united, with obama having the first organization to advance his agenda and now with the mercer's taking it to a new level with the make america great foundation or nonprofit doing those advocacy campaigns in a bunch of the state trump won to promote his presidency. is your thought about how that affects your work in fighting corruption and other countries? sen. cardin: thank you for the question. look, i think america has compromised its effectiveness globally in fighting the principal values that made our country great. that is good governance. that we govern for people, not for ourselves. it is we the people. our system was built with the understanding that there are frailties among individuals in power and so
, there are checks and balances. no one is above the law. the president can be indicted for a crime. we have seen how it has worked over the history of our country, where the check and balances have worked. a truly independent judiciary and an independent congress. i don't know too many countries that have an independent congress. almost all are parliamentary systems of government. we put a real priority on the importance of the individual, and i could not agree with you more. citizens united was one of the most disappointing decisions. it opened the floodgates for dark money in campaigns, which was terrible. when people come up to me, other country leaders on how to reform their free election systems, a safety net pattern after how we do our fundraising. it was a fundamental decision by the supreme court that we were going to protect a business right over the right of the
individual, which makes no sense. there are issues in all three branches of the government but we the people still control. as we have seen around the world, we the people will not tolerate corruption. they won't. there will come a point where they will be on the streets, including in the united states. they will not tolerate corruption. it is in all our interest to figure out a way to make sure we put in place those systems that will prevent that. it is very frustrating with president trump. that it did not think people would allow him to win the presidency without releasing his tax returns and be president without divesting his personal wealth. i did not think that would be a factor. but now is the dots are coming out that may be connected, that may change that. we have to continue to stand by our principles and be willing to defend our principles. yes, one of the things that is particularly important in a
democracy is how you get the populace to understand they have an interest in these issues? that is something that many of had not been as successful as we need to be, as we saw in the results of this election. we need to do a better job of convincing the people that the stability, the security of our country depends on honesty in countries like ukraine, countries like brazil, countries like mexico. i think they see it in mexico, as the drugs are coming in and killing our children. you can connect that dot. we can stop the illegal flow of drugs coming in from mexico by stopping the cartels. working with mexico for that to happen. or we can get rid of the gang violence. i met with a gang leader when i was in honduras who is under fbi -- trying to cut a deal, and he was telling me what his role was. his role was to come to maryland
and set up sister gangs. as we get that message out more and more, i think people would be more interested in what we are doing in honduras with ending the corruption. so i think we have to connect more of the dots. the united states is the greatest country in the world because of our values. we are in a position where we can make a huge difference. we have always had challenges. i would acknowledge this is one of the most interesting challenges i have had in my life. we have always had challenges. we have figured out ways to deal with these challenges. i'm not going to pretend that i don't think damage has been done. i think damage has been done to the united states. but we need to figure out a way to advance these causes. and i believe we will. you will find democrats and republicans rallying behind these principles and developing policies that will allow america not only to lead internationally, but at home, do what is right to protect our central values. thank you all.
[applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [crowd noise] >> we will hear more about foreign policy tomorrow for another member of the foreign relations committee, connecticut center chris murphy. he is at the council on foreign relations to talk about unitarian a. 12:30 p.m. on
c-span. in the recent summit between president trump and chinese president xi jinping and what it means for trade, security and the economy. that is live at 1:00 eastern on c-span 2. the los angeles times has been putting on a festival of books of more than 20 years. institutione an that is part of the community. it is a way we can celebrate with the readers of the paper and the city as a whole the very notion of reading. today when the idea of there being something called fake news is out there, i think books help us celebrate the way that words and facts are grounded in storytelling and in history. >> watch our live coverage of
the los angeles times' festival of books, april 22 and 23 on book tv on c-span 2. iran on c-span, newsmakers is next with republican congressman phil roe of tennessee. the former u.s. attorney talks about his career in the criminal justice system. at 8:00, the biographer john farrell on his latest book about richard nixon. steve: joining us on newsmakers from capitol hill is congressman phil roe, the chair of the house veterans affairs committee from tennessee's first congressional district. thank you very much a being with us. and joining us with the questioning is conor o'brien from politico and kellie mejdrich from cq roll call. dr. rowe, i want to begin with one of the testimony questions given to david chilton. he said one of the problems in the department is it can take six to eight months to fire